Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sururu - Brazil's Homegrown Aphrodiasiac

What foods do you consider aphrodisiacs? The way you answer this question probably depends on your native culture. We all belong to one (or more) cultures, the most common of which are regional and/or ethnic but which can be national, religious or political too. The dictionary defines culture as "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively" and food and cooking are one of the most important components of any culture.

Almost every culture assigns aphrodisiac quality to certain foods; that is, cultures ascribe the power to increase sexual desire or potency to some foods. Human nature being what it is, foods that are considered to be aphrodisiac are eagerly sought out by those who wish to increase their sexual drive and power (or those of their sexual object.) Such varied foods as arugula, avocado, chocolate, deer penis or antlers, doce de leite, ginseng, oysters, saffron and watermelon are considered to be aphrodisiacs by one or more cultures.

Although Western medical science ascribes no proven aphrodisiac powers to any food, the notion that, say, oysters or ginseng increase one's sexual desire is strong and even the most sceptical diners may choose to eat these foods in the hopes of feeling their aphrodisiac effect.

The folk traditions of northeast Brazil all along the Atlantic coast that stretches thousands of miles from southern Bahia state almost to the mouth of the Amazon, share a belief in the aphrodisiac powers of a small member of the mussel family that bears the scientific name Mytella charruana. This miniature mollusk is called sururu in Brazil, and in northeastern Brazilian culture it is believed to pack a powerful aphrodisiac punch. The small bivalve is native to the lagoons and mangrove swamps of the northeastern coast of Brazil and all along the coast, it's cooked into soups, added to coconut-milk based stews called moquecas, even fried up in omelettes. If the aphrodisiac powers ascribed to the sururu are even a tiny bit true, the people of Brazil's northeast are sure to be among the world's horniest inhabitants as collectively they eat a whole lot of the little mussel.

Another mollusk often considered to be an aphrodisiac, the oyster, does contain high levels of zinc, a chemical which aids in the production of the male hormone testosterone. Our research department here at Flavors of Brazil has been unable to determine if sururu also contains zinc, but if it does, that might be a clue as to why it's considered an aphrodisiac in Brazil.

One note of caution - eaten in large quantities, sururu have been shown to have a powerful laxative effect. So if you're looking to increase sexual desire by eating sururu exercise caution, as the effect of an "overdose" might just minimize your sexual desirability at the same time that it increases your desire.You have been warned!

Coming up, we'll publish some traditional northeastern Brazilian recipes for sururu.


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